TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - The family of Carla Stefaniak, an American tourist originally from Tampa who was found murdered in Costa Rica in November - is outraged over charges against the suspected killer.
According to Costa Rican media reports, 32-year-old Bismark Espinosa Martinez is being charged with simple homicide, Costa Rica's version of second-degree murder, which only carries a sentence of 12 to 18 years.
Stefaniak's family says the punishment is far from justice.
Loved ones of 36-year-old Carla Stefaniak are now left with memories. Some of her last memories were made on a fateful trip to Costa Rica. The day before she was set to fly home, authorities say she was murdered by a security guard at her Airbnb rental.
"She's not someone you would ever forget," close friend Greg Zwolinski said. "Her family and I are livid he could get such a short sentence for capital murder."
Stefaniak's brother, Mario Caicedo, wants Espinosa-Martinez to be charged with qualified homicide, or first-degree murder.
"We feel very frustrated because we believe 12 to 18 years is not enough for what this guy did to my sister," Caicedo said. "That's not enough. That's not the justice we're looking for."
Espinosa-Martinez is accused of brutally attacking Stefaniak inside her Airbnb and disposing of her body a few hundred yards from her room. Authorities believe the crime was sexually motivated. Her body was found with multiple stabs wounds and her neck was broken.
"We're very angry because this monster and evil person took away this person who we hold so dearly in life," Zwolinski said.
In order to justify a first-degree murder charge, you must prove pre-meditation, which is something the family's attorney plans to do at trial.
"We believe this is premeditated. This wasn't 'hey, good-looking girl, let me get her.' This is something he played up in his mind. He saw an opportunity, which happened to be Carla, and he went after it," Zwolinski said.
Espinosa remains in custody in Costa Rica. A trial date has not yet been set, but the family expects is to happen in the next few weeks. At trial, the family's attorney will ask the judge to reconsider the simple homicide charge.